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beldam

[bel-duh m, -dam] /ˈbɛl dəm, -dæm/
noun
1.
an old woman, especially an ugly one; hag.
2.
Obsolete, grandmother.
Also, beldame
[bel-duh m, -deym] /ˈbɛl dəm, -ˌdeɪm/ (Show IPA)
.
Origin
1400-1450
1400-50; late Middle English, equivalent to bel- grand- (< Middle French bel, belle fine; see beau, belle) + dam mother (see dam2)
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for beldam

beldam

/ˈbɛldəm/
noun
1.
(archaic) an old woman, esp an ugly or malicious one; hag
2.
an obsolete word for grandmother
Word Origin
C15: from bel- grand (as in grandmother), from Old French bel beautiful, from Latin bellus + dam mother, variant of dame
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for beldam
n.

"aged woman," 1570s; earlier "grandmother" (mid-15c.), from dame (q.v.) in the sense of "mother" + bel-, Middle English prefix expressing relationship (cf. belfader, belsire "grandfather"), from Old French bel, belle "beautiful, fair, fine" (see belle). This "direct relationship" sense of bel is not found in French, where the prefix is used to form words for in-laws.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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